Ke’Bryan Hayes and Colin Moran are Among the Top Third Base Prospects

Baseball America continued with their lists of the best prospects by each position on Monday morning after posting the first three positions last week. The Pirates had Mason Martin on the first base list after coming up empty for catchers. Kevin Kramer was on the second base list on Friday.

Monday was the top third basemen and both Ke’Bryan Hayes and Colin Moran made the list of the top 20 at the position. BA gave the position four stars out of five for strength of the group this year. Hayes ranked seventh, while Moran is in 15th place.

The interesting part about Hayes being seventh is that he is one spot below Michael Chavis. When BA did their top 100 prospects list, Hayes wasn’t on it, but Chavis ranked 85th on the list. So unless they consider the difference between the two players to be large, it looks like Hayes just missed BA’s top 100 list. He just missed MLB Pipeline’s top 100, and ranked as the 61st best prospect for Keith Law. Pipeline only went ten deep on their best by position lists and it didn’t include Hayes (or Moran), but they did give him the lone honorable mention at the end of the article.

Moran looks to be the obvious favorite to start at third base for the Pirates this year after they acquired him in the Gerrit Cole trade. If Hayes continues to develop on offense, then he could man the position for the Pirates by mid-2019 or 2020 at the latest. Even if Moran hits in the majors, there is a big difference in defense between the two players, so he could be moved off of the position. It’s obviously far from certain that both will reach their peak, but if they do, it’s a great problem for the Pirates to have within a couple of years.

  • Fangraphs just put out a lost with Moran as the #53 ranked prospect in baseball………….they seem to like him.

  • The most important factor everybody is missing is Hurdle. He loves his veterans and looks at all rookies with stink eye. Name once he’s handed a FT spot to a rookie without a long trial. Moran’s moxie will be tested and if he stumbles he will be the FT 3rd baseman in Indy.

  • If Colin Moran hits the way hes supposed to there’s no defense that’s going to move him off the position IMO

    • I’d disagree, but will say there will be a home for him somewhere on the diamond (1B, LF, RF).

    • Hate to say it but if Moran hits well enough to keep an everyday starting job and Hayes continues progressing and becomes a useful everyday regular as well then Moran could easily be moved to first to replace Josh Bell when traded if he can’t be extended being a Boras client and all.

    • The Astros, as a club, posted an 85 wRC+ at the DH spot last year. Their primary 1B produced 116 wRC+.

  • Looks like the Fangraphs Top 100 has 5 Pirates: Keller (23), Meadows (47), Moran (53), Hayes (56), and Tucker (74).

    At third base specifically, Moran and Hayes rank 6th and 8th, respectively.

    Keller is 7th among RHP, Meadows 13th among OF, and Tucker 5th among SS.

    • Shane Baz is the club’s third best prospect but also unranked?

      • I know, I thought it was weird, too. He’s on the “other prospects in consideration” list. I think this was a collaborative effort between McDaniel and Longenhagen, so perhaps a difference of opinion between the two which didn’t have a chance to show up in the Pirates list is the cause.

        • Yeah I just assumed the change in staffing plus deadlines of getting all this content out shook things up. No big deal.

      • This is the ordering of Keller, Meadows, Hayes, Tucker, and Baz that makes the most sense to me.

        Now… i wouldnt put Moran in a top 100, let alone above Hayes, Tucker, and Baz, but i guess i’ll take it.

        Fun little flashback to pre-trade when we’d debated about Moran. I had been pimping him as a fun “throw-in piece that might fit well as a platoon partner with Freese. nothing more, nothing less”… kinda crazy that he’s anywhere *close* to a top 100 now, in hindsight. Guess word of the swing change hadn’t really been out yet.

        Granted, i thought the trade would be something like Whitley and Moran for Cole, but hey, here we are.

        • The swing change has been known since last year; it just magically got better once he was traded for Cole. 😉

          • It’s not rocket science, the end goal is to produce, not time your development to max out your Baseball America Prospect ranking. Fangraphs’ is obviously big on batted ball statistics and if they’re buying in to Moran’s changes, I’d trust that more than whatever preconcieved notions that the other outlets have towards Moran.

            • LOL Okay.

              • I mean, it’s just as logical to accept the fangraph analysis as to accept whatever the other prospect determined. I guess the key is, do you accept that in order to be a productive major leaguer, a prospect has to have a steady increasing development arc?

                You can see it clearly in his progress at BA. Started as a top 100 guy, and top Marlin prospect, went to Houston, dropped down their list and bottomed out at #30 after he floundered in 2016 at AAA. So then he rakes last year, when was BA right?

                • None of this has any relevance to the conversation we were having whatsoever. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

          • I don’t think Fangraphs does midseason prospect updates, do they? But they’ve written a ton about exactly these sorts of swing changes, so I think they have data on them which leads them to trust them more than other outlets might. Basically, they’ve tracked the effect it’s had on guys like Yonder Alonso, and seen it work consistently enough for a certain profile of hitter to trust success with one even in a smallish sample, like Moran’s.

              • In that case, this is clearly Jeff Sullivan’s doing.

                • Heh, nah, I meant what I said! Strip down my usual poorly-placed sarcasm and my point was that sometimes additional spotlight can sway opinions.

                  Moran had dropped so far off the prospect chart and swing changes have become so commonplace that an above-average, but not great, half-season in the PCL just didn’t turn many heads, even when aware of the changes. Fast forward to this winter and all the sudden that additional attention makes a few folks reconsider.

                  Kiley has also seemed to come back form his sojourn with the Braves as a more cautious evaluator, as well. Just my take.

                  I buy the bat, but skeptical of the rest of the package. Pleasantly surprised to see him this high.

              • Speaking of Fangraphs, have you seen this from Sullivans 2/2 Friday chat ? Nate: Who are some of your breakout pitching candidates this year? Guys who caught your eye at the end of last year or sparked your interest this offseason.

                Jeff Sullivan: Wilmer Font!!

                Jeff Sullivan: I think Glasnow is surprisingly close to being amazing

                • Ha, I noticed that as well.

                  I suppose with how far of a distance there is between present and amazing one has a lot of leeway for “surprisingly close”.

      • Sorry, I just can’t see rating any pitching prospect rated that highly after just 23+ innings in what amounts to Rookie ball.

        • I’m with you there. I could be swayed by a Forrest Whitley-like run of dominance through multiple levels, but nothing about Baz’s performance was very impressive.

          That doesn’t make him any less of a prospect, but also doesn’t really tempt me to rank him in the Top 100 when I wouldn’t have been inclined to anyway.

    • Same five as my top five, but my order is Keller, Meadows, Tucker, Hayes, Moran. I know Baz is everything we’d want from a HS pitcher but I just don’t like placing HS pitchers in a top 5 until they’ve had a year or two in professional baseball. (I’m also more wait-and-see about Moran, but I guess he edges out Baz, Reynolds, Luplow, and Lolo for me.)

    • But I thought we didnt get a top prospect for Cole?

      • We didn’t

        • Well somebody disagrees with you rating him as a top 60 player among MLB Prospects. The narrative doesnt fit, at least in regard to this player.

      • Realistically, no one knows what the Pirates got for Cole….and probably won’t until June/July.

        I’m hopeful, but that optimism is based more on the Pirates wanting to do well than my ability to see the future.

        Of course, there are always the folks that want to see the Pirates come out on the bad end because the team didn’t get the player(s) they wanted.

        • Sad, but true. Would rather team do poorly in hopes NH/CH are canned, or ideally, BN sells to another billionaire. One who doesn’t care about fiscal responsibility, as if those exist.

          • Would they be canned? If Nutting is so cheap, would he pay two GMs and managers?

            But, yes, prospects are fickle…everybody want a name and someone ‘ranked’ on some lists. If we traded our two of our biggest at the beginning of ’17 for Quintana…that would have been Meadows and Glasnow.

            Not saying the Pirates should have made that deal, but it wouldn’t have hurt them as much as so many of us assumed.

          • Scott, have you ever thought about registering a single comment that could be perceived as even slightly critical of any move by the organization? You are so uniform and predictable in your support it borders on comical.

            • Quite simply, I’d rather align myself with those who are paid to make tough analytical decisions, than those who are guided by preconceived notions born from emotion.

              • I think it’s perfectly fine to be critical and skeptical, but the assertion some have that these trades were undeniably bad or undoubtably pure salary dumps are just as ridiculous as the assertion that they were definitely good moves. They made a decision about what sort of risk/reward return they wanted and pulled the trigger. There are competing philosophies on what the best way to go would be, but they chose one of several valid approaches as far as I’m concerned.

                Some folks like Moran, some folks don’t. Some like Musgrove, some don’t. Same with Feliz and Martin. What I think is clear, though, is that these are all players which fit some component of the Pirates’ team-building philosophy, so it makes sense they got them. They also have talent an pedigree, even if they’re mostly post-hype guys.

              • One of the great things about this site is the give and take on various issues from people willing to express their opinions and the reasoning behind it. If somebody always “aligns” themselves with management on every issue then zero independent analysis is offered. There are quite a few posters on this site who give management credit when due, but were also early critics of moves that turned out to be disasters. Thanks for confirming your alignment, it will trouble me no more as I skip your posts.

                • One of the reasons I pay for this site is because those who choose to comment on here are almost always reasonable in their assessment of the organization. Probably a byproduct of having to pay to read the content. As such, I was truly referencing those who comment on other “free” Pirates articles.

                  With that being said, if you want to block my comments, I do believe Tim allows users to block other users comments from appearing.

      • We didn’t!

  • KeBryan Hayes is good.

  • There are a number of national scouts who think Moran’s new power is real, so I’m not surprised to see him on the list. The Astros were high enough on his bat that they were trying to find other spots for him to play to get his bat into the lineup before he was traded, since he was obviously not going to supplant Bregman or Guriel at the corner infield spots.

    • Yuli Guriel is going to be 34 and posted a 116 wRC+ last year. The Astros also produced just 86 wRC+ from the DH spot.

      • They clearly loved him, though, at first base, for whatever reason. I mean, I had him on and off my fantasy team all season because his production was spotty, but he was useful to keep around because I knew he was going to get plenty of at bats in a potent offense.

        Like Hurdle and S-Rod, there’s just no accounting for taste, is what I’m getting at. And like Hurdle with S-Rod, I’m sure defense had something to do with that.

      • I also don’t think Moran’s going to be a good enough hitter to be a true DH. And while I do think he’d be an upgrade at the spot for them, I’m sure they thought they could more easily find a bat-only guy to fill that spot than a pitcher of Cole’s caliber, hence the trade.

      • I think the Astros were willing to part with Moran because they are loaded with prospects and he fit what the Bucs were looking for in a deal for what the Astros were looking for. Trades often are about both teams getting what they want.

    • I still have trouble with the main return for GC being the 15th rated 3B prospect in baseball. Hope hit turns into a stud but man its a hard pill to swallow k owing that non one in baseball thinks we got what we should of for Cole

      • You’re in luck; just ignore every other outlet and pretend only FanGraphs does rankings!

      • here’s how i’m thinking about it.

        There’s a decent chance that Musgrove comes close to replacing Cole all by himself.

        Maybe he doesn’t and maybe i’m too high on Musgrove. But if that happens, then it won’t be that hard for Moran, Feliz, and Martin to turn it from a slight loss into a win.

        it’s a bizarre trade. not the model that we expected. But i like it more and more as time goes on.

        and i’m not just blindly okaying everything that they do. i’m pretty anti Cutch trade at the moment. If they don’t re-spend his salary on something fun (Matt Kemp [and prospect], J Dyson, C Gomez, J Lucroy, etc), then i’d rather they had not traded him at all.

      • Eric Marshall
        February 5, 2018 4:47 pm

        Garret Cole unfortunately did not pitch well the past two years. A good part of the reason we haven’t competed. Getting untarnished or top10 prospects for him wasn’t realistic. If we had sold after 15 yes… we could have gotten a ton.

        • I have a weird feeling Coles going to throw about 220 innings this year with a strong ERA and a lot of wins and Ks. This trade is going to look worse and worse as time goes on. The only thing I think that could move the deal in the Bucs favor is if Cole gets hurt which is possible. After seeing what the Astros did with Morton I have no reason to think they will not get Cole back to being a power pitcher.

          • Those increased number of wins will come as a result of pitching for the World Series Champions. Last year, he pitched for an offensively challenged team.

            So, the question is, can Musgrove be better than .500 with this year club? Here’s to hoping he can and will

      • The Pirates had no guts whatsoever in dealing with Boras. They should have at least tried to sign Cole to an extension to buy out a couple free agent years. But no. Talented #1 pitcher with a great pedigree? We’ll just let him go, cause he was gonna walk in two years anyway.